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Nonprofit shifting the gears on mental health awareness

Outdoor fundraiser Saturday in Miami County
Shifting Gears
Posted at 6:55 AM, Jun 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-18 08:54:18-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A local nonprofit adjusted their annual fundraiser last year because of the pandemic, and their new event went so well, they are doing it again this year.

Shifting Gears For Regan was founded after a metro family lost their daughter Regan Johnson in 2017 to suicide. It helps raise money to fund mental health programs in schools.

Their yearly fundraiser usually involves a motorcycle ride, dinner and silent auction. Last year organizers had to readjust and figure out a way to raise money and keep everyone safe.

They ended up creating a "passport cruise." People would grab a unique passport that would feature several places they could visit, like a lavender farm and winery.

"I didn't know of an event like that other than Miami County does a farm tour twice a year, spring and fall. That's kind of what I base the idea off. But, that we would do more than just farms. We would have some other things thrown in there. So I wasn't sure how to market it. I wasn't sure if people would like it, so it was just kind of a big gamble. I just had to find a solution to try to give something fun for people to do," BJ Thomas-Wilson, Regan's mother said.

The fundraiser comes at a time where people are taking their mental health more seriously than ever because of COVID-19.

Thomas-Wilson said it is a good time for families to enjoy the outdoors and start a conversation about suicide prevention and mental health.

"We had lots of people last year, who they did it as a girls' day out. It's just a great way to get out and enjoy the outdoors and some new experiences and it's just fun and it does so much for your mental health, the event itself, to get out and enjoy the sunshine and talk to people and just have a great afternoon, and it's just, there's nothing else like it," Thomas-Wilson said.

The fundraiser takes place Saturday, starting in Paola. You can still sign up. The event costs $50 and anyone interested can visit the website to learn more.